From student-athlete to master marketer

Aaron Radbill has gone from preparing the Walkup Skydome for games to preparing major-league box offices for sales.  As a sports marketing specialist for Ticketmaster — one of the top event ticket sales offices in the world — Radbill works to enhance the relationship between sports teams and their box offices, and he says that many of the skills he uses on the job every day are things he picked up as a student-athlete while at Northern Arizona University.

"I learned a lot of the leadership skills that I use today," Radbill says. "In the classroom, not only is it important to understand your role and responsibility, it is equally important to know that leadership comes in taking initiative, being an active contributor and role player, volunteering to lead certain areas, and being able to draw conclusions and deliver recommendations with conviction.”

Radbill came to Northern Arizona University as a tennis recruit. As a student athlete, he learned more than just balancing priorities and time management.

"It's about being competitive,” he says. “The workplace is a competitive environment, whether you're interviewing for a job, or have a job and want to achieve your goals and succeed, there's heavy competition. Competition for the job you want, competition within your company, or competition in your industry."

Radbill received the Golden Eagle Award for student-athlete academic achievement, was a member of the student-athlete advisory committee, and served as an ambassador for the NAU Centennial Celebration. From there, he took the next step toward his dream of a career in sports administration by working with the university's athletics department to help execute events and operations for games in the Walkup Skydome.

“Even when I was a student, I knew I wanted to get into sports and sports management,” Radbill says. “I did a lot of volunteering with athletics, including putting flyers on seats and tearing off tickets – just real grunt work, to get that experience of working in the sports field at live events. I did any task, small or big, to help out and learn as much as I could.”

Relationship-building is another area that Radbill credits with his success: in sports, academically, and professionally. "The relationships I built with my teammates and classmates were positive because they helped us learn to work together to achieve success, on the court, and in the classroom," Radbill says.

The right start

Radbill recommends that those wanting to get involved with sports start right here in Flagstaff, just like he did.

“Depending on what area of sports you want to get into, spend as much time as you can around the athletic department. Volunteer for as much as you can, whether it is game-day operations, fundraising, working with the development staff, or preparing for donor events; just to get that ground level experience. No matter what you want to do in sports – whether marketing, college athletics, or working for a team, you can get the basic experience of what it’s like to work at live events in the sporting world.”

He says he took away valuable lessons from his involvement in sports, friendships with classmates and professors, and time in the classroom. He advises future students to set a goal and do everything possible to go after it.

"Experience all the university has to offer,” Radbill advises. “If you have a goal, be driven to reach it. If you don't have one, make sure you are exposed to as much as you can so that you can figure out what you want to do. From there, be driven to learn as much as you can in that field so that you can succeed in the professional world. Relationships are a major key to success no matter what direction you choose to go in your professional career. From your classmates to your professors to anyone that you work with, it’s a small world out there. Maintain the relationships you cultivate, because you never know when you will find yourself working with or needing assistance from those individuals."